Are You Asking Your Patients How Much Porn They Are Watching?

 

“…What pornography is really about, ultimately, isn’t sex but death.”

Susan Sontag, “The Pornographic Imagination”

 

Is it a taboo question or a sign of the times? Should we be asking our patients how much pornography they are consuming? Are you doing them a disservice by not asking?

 

Over 50 % of internet traffic is related to sex. Pornography is accessible to everyone with a digital device! I recently attended the annual NAPNAP national conference in Chicago. Besides drooling over incredible architecture and sandwiches from Mr. Beef, I was interested in attending the lecture on Pornography.

 

I had just recorded an episode on my podcast “Nurses and Hypochondriacs” with guest Braxton Dutson LCSW, Sex Therapist, and host of “The Birds and Bees Podcast.” Much like my podcast the speaker at NAPNAP  (National Association Of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners) shared his personal journey through pornography and how he got addicted at a young age. It took over his life, spiraled him into depression, and destroyed his relationships. The speaker expressed the importance of asking your patients about how much porn they are consuming. “After all, you could be saving a life!”

 

Later over lunch at Mr. Beef, a few old grad school classmates and I discussed the issues. Yes, nurses can eat lunch and talk about  grotesque subjects! It never upsets our stomachs! Well, maybe sometimes. One PNP shared her experience as she opened the “Pandorra’s Box” and asked a teenage patient the “Taboo Question: How much porn are you watching?”

 

“A lot!” was the answer. He spewed information as if he had diarrhea of the mouth and confessed that he could not stop watching it and masturbating! He even confided in her that he was seeking more and more graphic porn. He had even gone so far as to solicit prostitution!

 

After she let him speak his peace as if he was at the confessional in a Catholic church and she was the priest, she stated she was beside herself on how real and how destructive pornography has become to the teenage brain. Of course she told his father, who knew there was a problem. She then helped him come up with a plan.

“How much porn are you watching?” Has became part of my HEADSS exam. And YES, they are all watching it! It’s free and accessible on digital device!

 

Much like eating McDonalds every day will accustom you to food that (although enjoyable) is essentially not food, pornography conditions the consumer to being satisfied with an impression of extreme sex rather than the real.”

Virginie Despentes

 

Research suggests that pornography addiction is like drug addiction. It changes the neurotransmitters in the brain. It makes you objectify your partner instead of seeing that person as a real human being. This is what our teenagers are learning. This is how they are taught to see sexuality and human relationships. It’s important for health care practitioners to get educated and ask those “taboo” questions. It imperative to add to your HEADSS (Adolescent Psychosocial Interview)! After all you could be saving a life!

Although more research is needed on how to counsel teens on pornography viewing and addiction. There are a few sex education classes that are starting to incorporate pornography viewing and addiction to their curriculum. The classes focus on creating a safe space where teens can talk about what they are viewing and how it’s affecting them.

The number one key to asking the “Porn” question is to be “non-judgemental” and “open” creating a safe space for your teen patients to speak! Listen to our Pornography And The Teenage Brain Podcast on itunes to learn more on how to help your patients, and how to guide the . Click on the link Ep 10 Pornography And The Teenage Brain